People are tired of noise from Edmond train whistles
EDMOND — After Kelly Karns moved to the Timberdale Estates housing addition four years ago, he quickly made his way to city hall to ask for help with the blaring train whistles outside his windows.
He didn't get much help, and neither have the people who complained to city officials in 2008, two years later and ever since.
At one point, city leaders said installing quiet zones at Edmond's 11 at-grade crossings would be too expensive.
City council members had talked about silencing the trains, but there had been nothing other than talk until this week, when they approved a $56,391 contract with CTC Inc. to make recommendations about quiet zones in Edmond.
City Engineer Steve Manek called the study the first step. It will take until December to complete, and 30 to 40 trains a day will continue to roll though Edmond blowing their horns.
"Just as one citizen here, I submit it is a more valuable, quality of life and health issue having quiet zones than it is to have another piece of brass art or stickers, decals, on the roadway for a handful of bikes," said Karns, who lives in the 300 block of Timberdale Terrace.
"I think we could better prioritize the money that would have a bigger impact for more people."
Karns, who lives near Boulevard and Danforth Road and the railroad tracks, wasn't the only person this week asking for quiet zones in Edmond.
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Rick Ricketson, who lives on W Edwards, is a retired senior research scientist who wants no more train whistle sounds near his house.
Ricketson did research on quiet zones and provided data to the city council. He said he was hoping his data could save the city some money.
"This is a significant cost," Ricketson said of the study. "I was hoping this could cut down on the cost. This is a quick calculation that could be a benefit to you. I applaud your efforts to get quiet zones."
Assistant City Manager Steve Commons said interest in Edmond quiet zones has increased as downtown development continues to include more residential property. He said Oklahoma City has some quiet zones.
Looking for the right company
Edmond city staff interviewed two engineering firms and chose CTC Inc., which is from Fort Worth, Texas.
CTC has conducted quiet zone studies in Winsor, Colorado; Modesto, California; Huron, Ohio; and Rock Hill, South Carolina. In Texas, CTC has done studies in Fort Worth, Colleyville, Lewisville, Denton, College Station and Carrollton.
"They will coordinate their evaluations with the Burlington Northern Railroad Company in order to meet compliance with the Federal Railroad Administration Use of Locomotive Horns," Manek said.
Consultants will examine all available types of crossing protection and the cost of implementation.
City council members budgeted $200,000 last fiscal year for the study.
Adding quiet zones will be expensive, but now there are other options, Commons said, speaking over the sound of a train coming through downtown at 3:17 p.m.
"I think we have learned more about what is involved," Commons said.
The establishment of a quiet zone could require additional railroad crossing equipment, such as a stationary horn system or more crossing gates.
Train engineers must begin to sound train horns at least 15 seconds, and no more than 20 seconds, in advance of public grade crossings, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Railroad Administration.
If a train is traveling faster than 60 mph, engineers will not sound the horn until it is within a quarter mile of the crossing, even if the advance warning is less than 15 seconds.
Train whistles must be sounded in a standardized blast pattern of two long, one short and one long. The pattern must be repeated or prolonged until the lead locomotive or lead cab car occupies the grade crossing.
The maximum volume level for the train horn is 110 decibels. The minimum level is 96 decibels.
Edmond's study could recommend closing less-active crossings.
"I think it is an issue that has lingered around the community," Common said. "We presented in the budget and the council acted like it was time.
"We have been looking for the right company and I think we have found it."